How To Get A Bed In Advertising
As a freelance writer from the UK with family in Jo’burg, I’d always been keen on finding out how things happened down here, so it was with great interest I accepted the invitation to spend a day at Douglasdale agency, Adnet. The bed part itself was a doddle : my sister lived close enough and she was happy to put me up for a while. Now for the advertising side …
The first thing that struck me as I walked through the door of Adnet’s offices was how chilled everything was. Granted the air-con was at max, but sitting directly in its flow was Paul Hanly, one of two brothers that run the place, and he was laughing and joking with his colleagues when I walked in. I was quickly involved in the joviality and made to feel at home immediately. These people like to have fun while they work … and why not? They run a successful agency and they’re at the top of their game so they have a lot to laugh about.
Paul himself runs the business side of things at Adnet, but the company was actually founded by his brother Ant in 1993, following the success of the agency in California prior to that. In the fifteen years that have passed, the company has grown steadily and organically and now ranks as one of the premiere agencies in South Africa with strong local and global ties. Ant Hanly himself has won 11 international awards and as creative director he’s well placed to bring out the best in his talented staff.
One of the team, Account Executive Tamara Forbes, explained to me that the humorous element extends to the clients themselves, in that they’ll often come up with wild and wacky ideas to promote the agency to potential customers. She began by telling me about “The Adnet Muffin” before bursting into laughter as I stared back blankly at her … In essence, she takes a tasty fresh muffin, professionally packaged in an Adnet Muffin Box, to the business in question, generally to the marketing manager of the company, along with a “menu” of the services they provide. With over 250 rival agencies in Gauteng, the competition is fierce so to produce something memorable – however off-the-wall – is obviously important in planting a seed in the mind. The menu itself details Adnet’s philosophy (under Starters), breaks down the different media and communication lines available (Hors D’Oeuvres), explains the unique originality at work within the agency (Main Course) before finishing on the sweet, sweet benefits of using Adnet and outlining their mission of cost-cutting creativity (under Desserts). Tamara went on to explain that she’s currently working on a big – but un-named – potential client who promised her he’d consider using Adnet if she sent him a muffin a day for the rest of the year, as the one he tried was so good. Upon returning to the office, she promptly requested a delivery of 300 more to the marketing department of the company.
With world-renowned clients on board, there clearly is a serious side to Adnet and I quickly became aware of the quality of their work as I looked around the offices, with some of their best work proudly on display, covering all aspects of advertising, marketing and communication both above and below the line. Their web experience is also extensive and executed and maintained in-house, with the aid of detailed and up-to-the-minute databases which provide feedback both for themselves and their clients as to the effectiveness of their campaigns.
Creatively daring yet well aware of budgetary and branding boundaries, Adnet tend to offer a number of potential marketing solutions to any brief they receive from a client, working closely with the customer and garnering as much of their input as possible before presenting their proposals for approval. Once finalized, the campaign, in whatever medium required, is then costed out and purchased through the buying power of Mindshare, allowing them to make considerable savings.
Adnet’s philosophy is “to produce creative and meaningful advertising”, and there is also a very strong emphasis on value for money. They look at all aspects of a client’s business, from conception of a product or service and target market research and analysis, through production, packaging and distribution, as well as brand development and communication through a variety of media, and longer term strategic projection. In short, they will look at your business from every angle and then work out the best way for you to market it both in terms of creativity and cost. Saving money is as important as creating sales in their eyes and with the likes of Pricewaterhouse on board, you can see they know what they’re talking about.
Production Manager Belinda Behrens explained how every new campaign is originated using the 3 different quotes method to ensure clients get the maximum value for money. This also allows Adnet to keep abreast of market changes in terms of the actual piecing together of their creative output into the finished article and means they’re constantly in touch with the ever-changing trends in the business.
With dedicated accounts staff monitoring suppliers’ activity, Adnet are also well-placed to keep their clients in the loop at all stages of their relationship. Accounts Manager Sue O’Connor analyses all aspects of the financial side of both the agency and its customers, and really has her finger on the pulse in terms of the actual end product.
With this in mind, it was with great anticipation that I finally had a look through Adnet’s impressive body of work to date. They have originated some of the best campaigns I’ve seen in Africa and coupled with the fact they use some world-class talent in the form of the various designers, photographers, AV studios and event organisers in their extended family of talent, as well as SADA repro-house of the year 2006, Hot Dot Print, the results are truly stunning. You’ve seen them already, probably every day, but to find out which check out their website at http://www.adnet.co.za.
As my time at Adnet came to an end, I cast my mind back to my own first stumbling steps as a junior copywriter in London and recalled how much fun we had back then coming up with ideas – some of them outlandish in the extreme – then actually seeing them come to life and being born as advertisements, marketing campaigns or promotional events. “To think, I actually get paid for this!” was what passed through my mind every day … and for a fleeting second I wondered if they had any jobs going … I already knew accommodation wouldn’t be a problem as my sister had already offered me bed and board for as long as I wanted.
Advertising is a great business to be in and Adnet are among the best at what they do : making your business their business. Their philosophy shines through everyone you talk to at the agency and the sheer love and enthusiasm for their work is very infectious. It was with great regret that I finally trudged away, knowing in a few days I’d be back in the cold, grey land that I call home. At least I’ve got an electric blanket to keep me warm in my own bed when I get there …